Tag Archives: Camera

The Responsibility of Model Making

Going into this course I was skeptical of the ability to connect the documentary process and theology. However, the separate discussions of church and how to shoot and cut video have mirrored each other in unexpected ways.

Church is a model. It is a human representation of a mystic religious experience.

This is an interesting parallel to the camera. The camera does not present us with reality. It presents us with a representation of light somehow reflected into an image… I honestly have no idea how this works but I know it is not what happened. Instead, it is a representation of that moment. Each of these models or representations is prone to human error. The camera can lie.

There is an assumption of truth with video. There is a forgetfulness that just like a piece of writing there is an author making conscious decisions about the composition, especially when it has the tagline “documentary”.

A famous photo from Jacob Riis’ How The Other Half Lived

Though we are discussing video in class this also applies to photography. An infamous series of photos, How the Other Half Lives depicts urban slums in 1890s America. When looking at these images it is easy to be preoccupied with the poverty and forget the conscious decisions made when making these photographs. The photographer of How The Other Half Lived was a police officer that purposefully created a photo series to associate fear with adult males in the slums and sorrow with the children. Though this is not unethical it is easy to forget that images are representations that can be molded.

This is similar to models of God and faith. These models are human constructions and in return can be changed and usually are adapted based on human thought, whether this is positive or negative.

Creating documentaries is a responsibility I am continuing to learn about. Whether this is learning how to use truthful trickery, editing diverse shots, or not taking quotes out of context. A large part of this is understanding the negative and positive implications of visual representations. This has been most apparent watching videos in class. It has become more and more clear conscious editing and filming decisions dictate the honesty of our models.

I hope to continue to grow in my ability to acknowledge human adaptations and models so I can better understand the difference between reality and representation in both filming and theology.

It’s easy to critique a good work; it’s difficult to create one

Have you ever considered yourself to be really good at something? Or can you recite your response to the cookie-cutter interview question, “What are your strongest qualities?” with little hesitation?

Typical answers include: I’m a good listener, I’m a leader, I’m super organized, etc.

For myself, I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty quick learner. However, over the last four days I’ve grown a little less confident in this assertion.

Don’t get me wrong. I have learned more in the last four days than I think I ever have in this  short amount of time. From working with cameras and filming short videos, to setting up interviews and evaluating models in life and the church — Words cannot describe how much I’ve gained so far from this experience.

It’s the kind of learning that challenges you to constantly think critically and creatively. We’re applying everything we’re learning as we learn it and therefore I’m immediately recognizing what I understand and what I need to work on. It has been a challenge, but it has also been one of the most effective ways of learning I’ve ever experienced.

Thorough watching various documentaries, we’ve witnessed what works and what doesn’t work when making a film. I’ve learned so much about the different elements of a camera and now words like aperture, shutter speed and ISO actually hold significance in my vocabulary. I’ve gained an understanding of what a good composition consists of, as well as good practices to remember when filming A and B-roll.

Aly and Maria take a selfie while gathering footage.

I have a greater appreciation for filmmakers and photographers. It’s easy to critique a good work; it’s very difficult to create one. You need to constantly be alert to your surroundings. Looking for what would be good footage. Listening for a golden-nugget of a quote to use within your piece. Remembering to capture a variety of shots.

We’ve learned about how to lead an effective interview. What questions to ask, when to ask them and how to gather the information needed most efficiently. We’ve discussed the roll theology will play in this trip. The class looked at different paradigm-shifts that have happened in history and what impact these shifts had on society. We’ve worked to try and answer difficult questions like: What does church mean on a global scale? How do you address large issues like poverty and hunger?

Can you tell my thoughts are all over the place?

Over the past four days there has been a constant flow of ideas and information, followed by application and discussion. This has triggered a substantial amount of momentum as we take off for the border.

Information Overload

At the end of day three I am both exhausted and eager.  The amount of information thrown at us has been pretty crazy but for some reason I keep wanting more.  Learning information about all the different things we need to know has been bearable because I know that the knowledge and skills will greatly benefit in the making of our documentary.  Plus we leave in three days!

I have learned more about cameras and all of their different functions as well as some history of Christianity and the Catholic Church.  I have also learned about how to do an interview.  To be honest this was my biggest fear coming into this backpack journalism trip.  I am not a journalism student unlike almost everyone else and I have not written that much or conducted many professional interviews.  Hearing about the amount of blogs we will be writing and the interview questions we have to come up with seems like such a daunting task to me.  I know that throughout this journey I will learn the necessary skills in order to improve my blogging and interviewing skills.

For our journalism portion of class, Carol had us read three outstanding articles.  The first article was about a deadly tornado that struck a town on Psalm Sunday.  The second was about a lady giving $150,000 to a college in order to allow more southern Mississippi African American kids go to college.  And lastly, my favorite article was about a fifth grader who has acute myelocytic leukemia.

I think that the reason this article touched me so much was because of the way the author, Erin Grace, brings emotion into her piece and her style of writing.  She writes about one sentence per line almost as if she was writing like a fifth grader.  Erin humanizes the main character, Lauren “Lolo”, in many ways.  The most compelling line of her whole article was when several of Lolo’s friends came to Children’s Hospital on a snow day and stood in the atrium balcony and waved to her.  The way Erin describes the scene and how Lolo looks with her IV on her pole and hospital gown makes you feel like you are really there.  Lolo’s mother sees her daughter’s friends waving but with hesitation and perhaps fear.  Her mother simply looks at Lolo’s friends and says, “It’s still Lolo.”

Nico has been teaching us how to use the cameras and all of their functions.  He is a great teacher and one who really knows his stuff.  He taught us some of the basics on the second day and then had us partner up and go shoot at Creighton.  Ryan Lloyd was my partner and boy did we have fun!  We decided to shoot our adventure to the top of the old gym on Creighton’s campus.  We used all of the eight types of shots Nico taught us and had an absolute blast doing it.  We worked very well together because we both anticipated shots and also are creative.

Learning how to use the camera
Learning how to use the camera

We have come so far in only three days and have soaked in a lot of information.  I know that not all of the information will stick, but what is adventure without making a few mistakes and not going down the clear-cut path?  I am beyond excited for Saturday when we pack the vans and hit the road on this CU Backpack pilgrimage.